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NBA Preview: New Orleans Pelicans kick off scrimmage schedule against Brooklyn Nets

Zion Williamson remains out, but we’ll get our first look at the rest of the team for the first time since March 8th

2020 NBA Restart - All Access Practice Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans are going to appear in their first basketball game later today since the NBA decided to suspend play due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Well, sort of.

Starting at 6 p.m. central time, the Pelicans will take the court against the Brooklyn Nets, but the game will not count as both teams kick off their scrimmage portions of the schedule in the Orlando restart. In addition, today’s scrimmage will last a length of 40 minutes (eight minutes shorter than regulation) as team’s play four 10-minute quarters.

“I think we’ll definitely ramp guys up,” Alvin Gentry said to media yesterday. “There’s going to be guys that play less minutes in the first scrimmage than they (will) in the second or the third. We’re not going to play anybody out there thirty minutes in a forty-minute scrimmage. The first scrimmage, I think you’ll see a lot of different lineups out there because of the minute-restriction that we’re – not really restriction, just the number of minutes that we would be playing guys in the first scrimmage.”

Expect for the action to feel a lot more like a glorified practice session rather than a typical game. The primary goal for most coaches will be to get better and just have a look at things rather than walk away the winner.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he reached out to Utah’s Quin Snyder and Sacramento’s Luke Walton on how they wanted to make things work in their upcoming scrimmages, and other coaches have had similar conversations.

The Clippers play Orlando on Wednesday. Rivers said he knows exactly what Magic coach Steve Clifford will do in that scrimmage, and Orlando knows the Clippers’ plans as well.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to get better for both teams,” Rivers said. “So, coaches are absolutely sharing things. We’re asking them in this quarter can you do this, on-side, out-of-bounds, can you do this defense, then what do you want me to do? I think it’s been great in that way.”

Despite the likely reduced competitive spirit, it should be fun to just watch the Pelicans play basketball again as this will be the first time players get to battle against opponents rather than teammates. In addition, this will be our first glimpse of The Arena, one of the three courts to be used by the league to feature the upcoming slate of games.

Word is the NBA is saving some game-presentation elements for the condensed regular season (eight seeding games), but we should see the court in full with Black Lives Matter painted on the surface, the physical distancing of the bench chairs and the plexiglass separating the court from broadcasters and statisticians.

As for what to watch for from the Pelicans, Zion Williamson remains away from the bubble campus, but the rest of the team is expected to be in uniform and ready to compete.

Since they started practicing together in Orlando, we’ve seen footage on Pelicans social media of Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram doing their thing, but Gentry alluded to the idea that other players may shine some.

“I think that Nickeil (Alexander-Walker) has had some really good practices. He had a really good practice today. I think Frank (Jackson) has had some good practices. Jaxson (Hayes) has been very active. Our veteran guys, obviously JJ (Redick) and (Josh Hart) and BI (Brandon Ingram) and those guys have been real solid. E’Twaun (Moore) has had his days where he’s shot the ball extremely well and done some good things.”

Today will only be a scrimmage and the real games do not begin until July 30th, but hoops is hoops.

Geaux Pels!

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (0-0) vs Brooklyn Nets (0-0)

Where: The Arena, Disney World, Florida

When: Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 6:00 PM

Watch:, NBA TV (If living outside 75-mile radius of New Orleans)

Listen: ESPN Radio 100.3 FM